Pelosi, Pallone raise concerns about $5.4B acquisition of Tegna

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) raised concerns about Standard General LP’s proposed $5.4 billion acquisition of U.S.-based broadcast company Tegna Inc., in a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

In their letter sent on Thursday, the lawmakers requested current FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel and her agency review the pending transaction between Tegna, Standard General and Apollo Global Management Inc. in an effort to ensure the transaction follows the agency’s values of “localism, competition, and diversity on the airwaves.”

The lawmakers also claimed that the acquisition would violate the FCC’s mandate by limiting access to local news coverage, cutting jobs at television stations and raising consumer prices.

The lawmakers also raised concerns over reports that Standard General told investors in a meeting that Tegna’s local news stations have too many employees, a potential indicator of incoming layoffs.

“At the same time, they have described piping in news produced in Washington, D.C., to fill time on local newscasts as a public interest benefit, potentially leading to fewer local journalists and less local news,” the lawmakers wrote.

“The proposed transaction also threatens to undermine localism, competition, and diversity by obscuring ownership of the airwaves through offshore holding companies in the Cayman Islands and British Virgin Islands.”

The letter from Pelosi and Pallone comes after the FCC requested more information on the proposed acquisition of Tegna, citing concerns about specific plans for local news, the complex ownership structure and calculations of post-transaction retransmission consent rate increases.

“We urge you to fully examine the concerns raised by public comments — and shared by many of our colleagues in the Congress — about this proposed transaction, consistent with the applicable laws and regulations,” the lawmakers concluded in their letter.

A Standard General spokesperson told The Hill in a statement on Thursday that its acquisition of TEGNA would “yield significant public interest benefits,” and make it the ” largest minority-owned and female-led broadcast station group in U.S. history.”

“We were therefore disappointed to see the FCC petitioners enlist the involvement of Speaker Pelosi and Congressman Pallone by misleading them with the same false statements they have been making to the FCC,” the spokesperson said.

Updated: Oct. 6

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